Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Made in God's image

"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:26-27)

When I read these verses, the two words that stand out for me are "our image"... The word "our" really stands out. In my opinion, this implies that humankind is created in the image (Hebrew: tselem) and likeness (Hebrew: demuth/demooth) of the Creator, the One... not the reverse.

While I cannot tell you which specific characteristics we share with the image and likeness of the Creator, I sense that any "commonalities" we share have more to do with our spiritual nature, rather than our physical, egocentric nature. The reason I "sense" this is based on my fundamental belief that we are primarily spiritual beings experiencing a physical existence. I believe that our true nature is spiritual, eternal, divine, not temporary and of-the-flesh.

Acknowledging that humankind shares some of God's image and likeness "characteristics" is not the same as acknowledging that we share ALL of God's characteristics. By the same token, I feel that neither should we assume that God shares all of OUR characteristics, particularly those grounded in our physical, egocentric nature... such as anger, jealousy, hate, hurt, vengefulness, etc. (although the God of the Old Testament certainly was reported to have displayed such tendencies). My sense (based on the model of Jesus, my experiences/observations/exchanges/ readings, my "spiritual practices", and my evolving relationship with the Creator) is that God is perfect and thus not egocentric. It is precisely that type of perfection based on the elimination of the self in preference to the "Oneness" of our existence (all that is seen and unseen) that is the goal. It is precisely that goal that was attained by Jesus. It is what makes me want to be a follower of Jesus.

If God does not have an ego, then I sense that he probably does not share our negative human egocentric tendences. It is those egocentric tendencies that create division (you versus me)... and "division" to me runs counter to the essence of the Creator, the One. It is those egocentric tendencies that I feel are the cause of our world's problems... you versus me, I am right and you are wrong...

My salvation, enlightenment is focused on attaining the realization of Oneness with God. I cannot do this by continuing to give way to human egocentric tendencies. My understanding is that Jesus was sent to show us a different path... away from our egocentric tendencies. Instead of anger, Jesus taught joy. Instead of hatred, Jesus taught unbounded and universal love. Instead of vengefulness, Jesus taught unlimited forgiveness... and so forth. It is Jesus' teachings, Jesus' faith that represent the Way of salvation, enlightenment, oneness with God.

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